Scientists have discovered that a gene found in the common fruit fly can be successfully expressed in a plant and used to detoxify land contaminated with TNT.
The breakthrough could pave the way for millions of hectares of land contaminated by munitions to be cleaned up.
The study, published in New Phytologist, shows how a gene found in the common fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, can be expressed in Arabidopsis, a member of the cabbage family, to improve TNT removal from contaminated soil.
When scientists engineered the plants to express the glutathione transferase (DmGSTE6) gene found in fruit flies, they found that plants expressing the gene were more resistant to TNT and were better able to remove it from contaminated soil than wild-type plants without the gene.
Second World War
The fruit fly has an enzyme which attaches itself to the TNT molecule and is able to modify it and make it less toxic, not only to the plant itself, but the environment.
Professor Neil Bruce from the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP) in the University of York’s Department of Biology said: “What is important about this transformation is that it converts TNT into a product that could be more amenable to being broken down in the environment.
“At the moment there are sites going back to the Second World War which are still contaminated with TNT.
“The next stage would be to demonstrate that the TNT molecules are more biodegradable, but also to put these genes into plant species that could be used in the environment to clean up these sites.”
Dr Liz Rylott, who co-lead the research at CNAP added: “Areas of land contaminated with explosives are a threat to human health and the environment.
“We know that TNT does not readily break down in the environment, but by using specially developed plants we could be able to tackle this problem.”
The team from York has previously worked on a new transgenic grass species that can neutralize and eradicate RDX, an organic compound, which along with TNT, forms the base for many common military explosives.
Dr Bruce added: “The next stage would be to put the fly gene into the grasses, like we have done with the other RDX degrading genes.
“RDX and TNT are often combined in munitions so we need to have systems to cope with both pollutants. This is a global issue that is not going to go away.”
Receive an email update when we add a new MUNITIONS CONTAMINATION article.
The Latest on: Munitions contamination
via Google News
The Latest on: Munitions contamination
- High-level delegation witnesses cluster munition disposal in Toriton November 22, 2019 at 1:18 am
A high-level delegation on Tuesday visited a site in Torit State that is contaminated with cluster munitions to see first-hand how humanitarian mine action can prevent physical harm to civilians ...
- Field Event Highlights Success of Japan-Backed Mine Clearance Efforts in South Sudanon November 21, 2019 at 9:36 am
When civil war broke out in the 1980’s, in what was then still Sudan, many farmers in Magwi county and other parts of the south had their precious livelihoods stripped from them as their land was ...
- Environmental efforts clear land for developmenton November 20, 2019 at 8:03 am
That makes more than 1,000 acres of land that has been cleared of potential munitions and cleaned of hazardous materials by DPW’s Environmental Restoration Division. For the past four decades, the ...
- Living in the shadow of Plymouth's official hazardous siteson November 16, 2019 at 9:11 am
I asked about the munitions. He said: "My old man worked on the tunnels during the war and before ... In a nuclear emergency you could be exposed to radiation by breathing in contaminated air, ...
- Mustard gas and cod: Last chance to stop Nord Stream 2?on November 13, 2019 at 9:37 pm
The old munitions have also drifted from place to place over the ... to examine equipment that has touched the seabed and ensure there has been no chemical contamination," he added. Nord Stream 2 is ...
- A Navy weapons station full of WWII-era ammunition bunkers could be transformed into 13,000 new homes in the Bay Areaon November 11, 2019 at 7:00 am
In Concord, California, dozens of empty bunkers once housed World War II munitions. The site could become a new housing community.
- The Most Hazardous Contaminated Places and Where They Areon November 8, 2019 at 1:11 pm
Volatile organic compound (VOC) from the landfill contaminated some home wells and posed a health ... So far, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has removed about 400 munitions from the former ordnance ...
- Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) Geographic Information System (GIS) Reference Sheeton October 3, 2019 at 11:36 am
Munitions constituents (MC): Any materiels originating from ... and contaminants are performed under the HTRW project category. Incidental removal of contaminated soils resulting from a leaking UST or ...
- UN Must Investigate The Usage of Cluster Bombs in Sri Lankaon September 10, 2019 at 12:51 am
These obligations include issuing an immediate and effective warning to civilians living in cluster munitions contaminated areas, instead the Sri Lankan Army has to date tried to hide discoveries of ...
via Bing News